US 42 Road Diet for Dummies

After decades of work. A promising solution is under attack.

The proposed Brownsboro Rd. reconfiguration will bring a much-needed sidewalk and traffic control to lower Brownsboro in Clifton Heights. It will calm what is now a speedway, and actually improve the business climate along this bustling corridor.

But these positive changes are under attack by a few who have only recently engaged in this decades-long effort to improve our community.

A few businesses along lower Brownsboro Rd. (U.S. 42) recently posted claims that Ninth District Councilwoman Tina Ward Pugh is suddenly springing this road diet plan on them.”Did you know that US 42 Is about to be reduced from 4 driving lanes to 2? Until recently, neither did we,” says the headline on the opposition’s website. They claim the project will turn lower Brownsboro into a “dead zone.” They’re calling the proposed turning lane a “suicide lane.”

Clearly someone has not been paying attention. Very public study of this route has been underway for decades, with the focus on pedestrian access. The “road diet” project planning has included all the required public meetings and well-publicized opportunities for public input. I’ve attended a couple of the public meetings, including one held months ago in the Metro Council chambers at City Hall, and a more recent assembly at the School for the Blind, a couple of blocks from the road diet site.

No one raised objections in those open meetings. But now that the project is set to move forward, a few alarmists want to derail decades of planning instead of catching up and educating themselves. Their petition drive makes a variety of terrifying claims that the project will kill their businesses and bring chaos to Lower Brownsboro Road. In fact, similar projects around the world have resulted in the opposite results – a more lively business climate, smoother traffic flow and fewer traffic crashes.

Just for fun, I’ve distilled the debate into this animated video. Please watch.

 Things to know about the Brownsboro Rd. project

The Brownsboro Road Diet adds a center turn lane and a sidewalk by removing redundant travel lanes. The project extends from Drescher Bridge Road to Ewing Ave on lower Brownsboro Road – about 3,000 feet.

 A sidewalk has been notably missing since US-42 was widened – ironically, way back when public participation in transportation planning was not required.  The road widening spree destroyed access to walkers and cyclists in the neighborhood. For the past 30 years, residents have been trying to put the street back in shape for safe walking. All of this is especially important in Clifton, home to one of the largest communities of visually impaired residents in the nation.

Road Diets reduce overall crash frequency by 19% to 43%.  That’s because traffic moves at the speed of the most prudent driver. But total travel times remain about the same as they are now.

  • Road diets have been installed successfully at hundreds of locations all around the country.
  • Locally, they have been successful both at Southwestern Parkway and Eastern Parkway, with another planned for Grinstead Drive.
  • Road diets on roads with Brownsboro’s traffic volume  cause motorist no real delay – certainly less than stop lights that would be needed to build a crosswalk to the other side of the road, or the delay associated with the on-street parking further west on the road.

LouisvilleKY.gov has additional information about the project, and about the 9th district forum (pdf). The Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation (CART) has covered this project several times, including a nearly identical situation last spring.

Join Bicycling for Louisville and get involved in advocacy for active transportation in our city.

Also, Occupy Bike Seats! it’s a movement that’s going somewhere for a change. If you’re interested in joining, go to http://OccupyBikeSeats.com, read my OBS Manifesto, sign in and sign up for free. You’ll also find links to some of my favorite advocacy organizations everyone should support, including Bicycling for Louisville, League of American Bicyclists, Bikes Belong and People for Bikes.

Grace. Peace. Bicycle Grease!

Kirk

PS: Remember, every lane is a bike lane. Share the road.

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Enjoy the ride home.

©Kirk M. Kandle

1 Comment on "US 42 Road Diet for Dummies"

  1. Seems to me that slightly slower traffic means much more opportunity to actually NOTICE local businesses along the route. Not to mention the addition of walkers and bikers, who are much more likely to wander into an establishment on a whim than someone zooming by in their SUV.

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